A Letter to Children During the Pandemic
You are here
April 21st, 2020
I have started to write this letter to you about five times and can’t figure out how to say what I want to convey. I guess I will just start by telling you that even your teachers are having some hard days having to stay home. We have had puppet shows about our feelings, have read stories about emotions, and have had many meetings on how to make all this work, but some days the big feelings just won’t go away. Yesterday was a hard day for me. I can’t explain why it was hard, but I can tell you that I cried a little and felt sad. Some days are just like that. Lots of people have said, “It comes in waves. Some days you feel okay, and some days you don’t,” and yesterday I rode one of those big waves.
Today, we had a big teacher meeting, and there was a woman named Erin who joined us. She is a doctor who helps people with their feelings. She shared so many ideas that helped me understand my own feelings and why I might have had a hard day yesterday. It might sound funny to think your teachers need help managing their feelings sometimes, since we usually help you manage yours, but today I needed help.
Erin reminded us that no one in the world has ever done what we are all doing right now. No one ever thought we would have to try being teachers to 4-year-olds without being in the same room together. Everyone is working so hard to make it work. Most of us are working harder than usual because we are learning so many new things. We are doing our best to make sure everyone is feeling included, happy, and connected, but it doesn’t always work.
What I learned about myself (and what I already kind of knew) is that I like to help fix things for others. But I can’t do that right now in the same
way I usually do, and that has been very hard for me. Erin reminded the teachers it was okay if we couldn’t help everyone feel comfortable every day. That was very important for me to hear. I don’t like when any of you is feeling sad, disappointed, or unsure, but I was reminded that we are all resilient. We are all going to be okay, even if we don't feel that way every day.
Right now, children are having big emotions, parents are having big emotions, and so are teachers. Erin reminded us how important self-care is, especially during shelter in place. As soon as the meeting was over, I got my headphones, water bottle, and mask to go for a long walk. It really helped! I walked for almost two hours and even found myself dancing a little to my music along the way.
On my walk, I did a lot of wondering: what will it be like when we go back to school? Will you remember all the Panda Classroom Agreements? Will it be hard to say goodbye to your parents? Will you be so happy to see your friends? It will be an adjustment for all of us, I’m sure. And like the waves that we are all riding, we will ride them together, supporting each other trying to get back to normal.
I am hoping that soon the time comes when we can all safely go back to school. In the meantime, I am going to work hard on being gentle with myself and remember that I can’t fix everything for everyone all the time. But I will do my best; that's all I can ask for myself right now. Maybe that will be my important lesson in all this.
Photograph: courtesy of Kelly Fox
Kelly Fox has been an early childhood educator in San Francisco for 27 years. In 2006, she was named Early Childhood Teacher of the Year by San Francisco State University. She has dedicated her practice to creating a positive learning environment, and her love for social and emotional development is evident in the way she creates activities to help children understand the importance of being mindful, respectful, flexible, resilient, and empathetic to themselves and to others.